Art teachers inherently know how to reuse, re-purpose, recycle, and in general make the junky old look shiny and new again. I am always on the quest to save a few dollars in my budget so I can splurge on the bigger items, and to do that, I have been saving crayon nubs.
As the crayons get worn down, broken, and peeled, I sort them into bags. This is something I will have a class do for 5 minutes or so during clean-up, periodically. This is also a great activity for kids done early, wanting to help, adult volunteers…you name it!
I take home the crayons and if they are unsorted, my toddler daughter practices her color sorting into small paper cups. The cups themselves work ok, as long as they are not wax-coated. My experience has been, if you melt crayons in the wax-coated cups, the wax from the cups runs down to the base, making it impossible to completely remove the new crayon. It can serve as a sort of handle though.
I have found that silicone ice-cube trays are the best method for melting crayons. Be sure to place the molds on a baking tray, as they can be flexible and no one wants a hot wax mess! I pop them into my toaster oven (set up on my porch to avoid filling the house with melted crayon smell) and bake them at 325 degrees for 10 – 15 minutes. As soon as they are liquid, you may remove them and allow them to cool. This is a perfect Midwest winter project – my frigid porch makes cooling off a quick process.
These newer, bigger, mixed color crayons serve as fantastic crayons to make rubbings or the base layer of hand-made scratch art paper. My 4th graders are working on a scratch art project now, and these new crayons work marvelously well to cover large areas and save time.